Geneva Tennis Open

Our lives are nothing if not varied… ūüė䬆 My wife, Jude, is a big tennis fan and she noticed that Alexander Zverev had chosen to play in the Geneva Open, as a warm-up for the French Open next week.¬† Other ‘stars’ were also due to play, like local Vaudois hero Stan ‘The Man’ Wawrinka, so we bought tickets for the quarter finals on Thursday.¬† Unfortunately Stan was knocked out early in the competition, but we were still treated to some excellent tennis.

The venue and event is small and very intimate and, at least on quarter finals day, you can get up close and, if you’re lucky, even chat to some of the players.¬† (E.g. see pic 5).

The eventual finalists were Nicolas Jarry and Alexander Zverev, who subsequently played out a very close final yesterday evening, with Zverev winning 10-8 in a 3rd set tiebreak.

Gornergrat, Zermatt, Switzerland

It’s hard to believe that I’ve now been blogging for over 4 years and this is the first time I’ve posted pictures, well, close up pictures, of one of the world’s most iconic mountains – the Matterhorn.¬† My excuse, if I needed one, is that Jude and I have been to Zermatt so many times before, with almost every one of our friends and family who came to stay when we first moved over to Switzerland.

Anyway, my sister, Karen, has been visiting this week with her partner, Paul, and they were keen to go there.¬† So, we drove around to Tasch, parked up and took the shuttle train to (the car free) Zermatt.¬† Now although the Matterhorn looks impressive from almost any angle, it’s far best viewed from the Gornergrat at 3,100m (or 10,170ft).¬† But do not worry if you are averse to hiking, as there is a train which will whisk you up to the top.¬† ūüėä

To give you some idea of the scale of what you are looking at, I’ve posted a picture (no. 4) of the ultra modern, ‘space age’ looking, Monte Rosa Hut, which is 5 storeys high and sleeps 120 people.¬† Picture 5 zooms out a little (and you can, I hope, spot the hut in the centre of the lower part of the image) and then picture 6 shows the full extent of Monte Rose (also called the Dufourspitze and is Switzerland’s highest mountain at 4,634m or 15,200ft), with the hut towards the lower right.

Mike’s Music Monday #7

It’s amazing how some tunes can transport you back in time to moments or certain experiences in your life.¬† This song, by Van McCoy, takes me back to the time I played rugby for Askeans in Kent, waaaay back in 1975.¬† ¬†I’ll not tell you what the other lads used to sing instead of “Do the Hustle”, but they were great days – training twice a week and playing on Saturdays, always followed by a few beers of course.¬† ūüėä

The ‘proper’ video for this song was pretty boring, being just a few still images, and I didn’t think Pan’s People dancing in Baby Dolls was quite appropriate.¬† So I selected this much better quality video featuring a popular Japanese dance group called Perfume.¬† (I’ve never heard of them, but you learn something new every day!¬† Watch out for the moving pavement though).

Walk from Les Haud√®res to the Ferp√®cle valley

Yesterday, my car had to go to the garage in Les Haud√®res for it’s regular service, so I had some time to kill before picking it up later in the day.¬† Rather than walk back home, I decided to check out the Ferp√®cle valley, to see how the snow was getting on.¬† And, although there was quite a bit, knee deep even, from the small reservoir to the valley itself, a lot had disappeared.¬† But it will be a while yet, before I can venture too far above 2,000m (6,500 ft).

There are clear signs though that more flowers and creatures are emerging from their winter hibernation.¬† I couldn’t identify picture 22 though, so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

 

Mike’s Music Monday #6

This week we have the first of two songs in my list by Billy Ocean РWhen the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going, which is always a good line for any runner or indeed, any difficult situation in life.  This video is made even more entertaining by the inclusion of Kathleen Turner, Danny de Vito and Michael Douglas.  Hopefully it gets you off to a good start this week.  Enjoy!

Northumberland Coast

In an attempt to catch up and get up to date, I’ve decided to group all my other holiday photos together.¬† (I say my, but I’ve included 2 of Jude’s as well – suitably credited to her).¬† As you will see we had some nice weather (unlike the rest of the UK at the time I understand) and we had yet another fabulous boat ride to the Farne Islands, where thousands of seabirds were nesting.

My apologies for all the bird pictures, but I know there are some keen birders out there following my posts.¬† If any of them/you can identify the little brown birds in pics 2 and 28 then I’d be very grateful.¬† I have my suspicions about the first but no idea about the second.

Walk from Alnmouth to Boulmer, Northumberland

Judith and I spent the last week of our UK holiday in Northumberland.¬† On our way down from Scotland, we dropped off Jo & Aaron at Edinburgh airport to continue their European holiday (in Berlin and Nice and then who knows where…)

We were quite fortunate with the weather and our first day out was to take a shortish walk along the coast from our base in Alnmouth to the next village north, called Boulmer (pronounced Boomer for some reason.¬† How people ever learn English I’ll never know.¬† It’s hard enough coping with the various accents without pronouncing things differently to how they look.¬† Or maybe people just couldn’t spell properly in the old days!)

Anyway, it was a beautiful walk, with plenty of things to photograph along the way. ūüėä

 

Plockton, NW Scotland

For our last full day in the NW of Scotland, we drove around Loch Carron to Plockton and treated Jo, Aaron and Jude’s friend, Kate, to a boat ride on one of Calum’s famous* Seal Trips (where you are guaranteed to see seals, or your money back!)¬† I have covered this village before, but I see that it was almost 3 years ago now, so I think it’s worth another post.¬† Especially as, this time, Aaron and I went for a short walk to the viewpoint at An Fhrith Aird, where there is an exceptional view of where Loch Carron meets the Inner Sound between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland. (See map at the end of the picture gallery).

*As featured on the BBC TV series “Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland’s Lochs”.

Around Lochcarron, NW Scotland

While Jude caught up with old friends at Kate and Geoff’s¬†Waterside Caf√©, Jo, Aaron and I drove just a few miles up the road to the Lochcarron Weavers to find some MaCrae memorabilia.¬† We’d also been tipped off that just across the way there was a very interesting 10 minute walk up to the abandoned village of Stromemeanach, which was left to fall into ruin in the 19th century in favour of Lochcarron itself.

On the way back, we stopped off to view the ruined Strome Castle, where Jo actually broke into a run (possibly for the first time in 10 to 15 years) after taking some photos of the Highland cow and calf (in pic 11).  I only took one picture of her running, but it turned out pretty well, so I had to post it.

Later that day I strolled down to Slumbay Island (though it’s inappropriately named as it’s still connected to the mainland even at high tide), where I captured a couple of shore birds and, as usual when I find myself on a beach, I found a few stones to stack. ūüėä

 

Mike’s Music Monday #5

Without doubt, my favourite song of all time, which had quite an influence on me at the time (which I won’t bore you with now, but I was only 14), was this song from Marvin Gaye.¬† I’m sure he needs no introduction, but for me he was a musical genius and, like many of that ilk, his life was far too short and too tragic .¬† Thankfully his music will live forever, so sit back and enjoy!